“Krishna is worshipable by great demigods like Brahma and Lord Shiva, and Putana was so fortunate that the same Krishna played in her lap as a little child. The lotus feet of Krishna, which are worshiped by great sages and devotees, were placed on the body of Putana.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Volume 1, Ch 6)
Everyone was amazed. This giant carcass was lying in front of them, and yet the young Krishna had no fear of it. Though only a small child, young enough to still require nursing, Krishna had no problem crawling on this hideous creature, who apparently died while in His company. She had initially approached Gokula with an enchanting figure, but it was obvious now that she had evil intentions from the start. How a young child unable to even walk could survive this creature’s attack was simply astounding. It was just a small glimpse into the wonders that were yet to come during this sacred time in the holy land of Vrindavana.
Who is God? Each spiritual tradition has their own definition, with the concepts running the full spectrum of imagination and thought. That a youth holding a flute in His hands, wearing a peacock feather in His hair, and having a bluish complexion could be God also seems to fit in line with the idea that man just concocted images of a Creator. After all, who have we seen that is bluish in complexion and can perform miraculous feats like lifting up a giant hill and holding it over his head with one finger for seven days? That this youth could be able to mesmerize others with the sound of His flute and the beauty of His divine vision seems to be an exaggeration as well.
The Vedic tradition, the one which declares Lord Krishna to be the Supreme Personality of Godhead, doesn’t just present information and then compel others to accept it. “Surrender unto Krishna, accept Him as your God; otherwise prepare for doom!” Sentiment is surely there, but the definition of the Supreme Lord is given in scientific terms as well. For a person to be supreme, they have to be different from ordinary men. In order to notice the difference, the qualities of the average person must be accounted for, studied and understood on the largest scale. The full scope of activity takes into consideration both cause and effect.
The effects are easy to see. We have billions of life forms around us, some moving and some nonmoving. The human being is considered the most intelligent species because of its capacity for intelligence. Surely some other species are stronger, faster and live longer, but the human being has the unique ability to understand God. When the pursuit to know the unknowable is made in earnest and directed by proper authority, the fruit of the existence in a human form of body is tasted. When this pursuit is absent, the human life is really no different from a birth in a cat or dog form.
“As a desire tree, whatever you want you can have from the Vedas. Veda means knowledge; it is so complete that whether you want to enjoy in this material world or you want to enjoy spiritual life, both kinds of knowledge are there. If you follow the Vedic principles, then you will be happy.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Krishna Consciousness The Topmost Yoga System, Ch 8 )
We see the effects in the form of the different species, but what is the cause? Moreover, we know that man is mortal, but why is this the case? Why can’t he live forever? These topics and more are the subject matter of the vast Vedic literature, which is likened to a tree of wisdom, with the different branches bringing forth their own fruits. If you follow a particular set of guidelines coming from the Vedic tree, you achieve a certain end. For instance, if you’re after material wealth, you can worship heavenly figures in charge of distributing such benedictions. If you’re after a long life, there is a similar process for that. If your desire is to gain lasting health benefits, you can follow the ancient system of Ayurveda.
But again, the tree is just the effect. We know that the trees we see around us sprouted from seeds. Similarly, the tree of Vedic wisdom comes from an original source. From this observation we have just introduced one definition for God. He is the person from whom all knowledge emanates. He is also the cause behind the material manifestation, so His position as the original person is further substantiated. He is the cause of all causes, sarva-karana-karanam.
The Vedas describe God in many different ways, but the word Bhagavan fits best. Bhagavan refers to the person who is the most fortunate, he who has every opulence imaginable and to the fullest degree. Bhagavan is the richest, wisest, most beautiful, most famous, strongest and most renounced. Since God is not limited to just one form, His expansions are referred to as avataras, or those who descend. Since God also has an impersonal feature, one where His personal presence isn’t felt, He can be described as nirguna. Since His original forms are featured with identifiable spiritual attributes, He is also described as saguna.
Though there are so many descriptions for the Supreme Person in the Vedas, just one name, one form, is considered the most beautiful and also the most complete. Since that form is extremely attractive and bluish in complexion, it is known as Krishna. Rather than just relay this information through the statements of Vedic literature, the Supreme Lord kindly manifests Himself in His personal and original form from time to time throughout history. These descents typically take place in the Dvapara Yuga, the third time period of creation, but this doesn’t mean that Krishna is invisible the rest of the time. Rather, anyone can see Krishna, provided they have the proper qualifications.
What does this mean exactly? Just as one needs 3D glasses to watch the latest movies in the theaters, vision needs to be cleared in order to realize the presence of the Supreme Lord and bask in the sweetness and charm of His appearance. If one is hankering after sense gratification or lamenting over the temporary setbacks that life hands out, consciousness will be diverted in attention. Hence even if Krishna were to appear before us, we wouldn’t realize His presence. We would then miss out on the most wonderful opportunity of seeing and interacting with God.
Is this even possible? Can someone see God and not know who He is? This is precisely what occurred with many miscreants in the past, including one female witch named Putana. When Krishna descends to earth to enact His lila, or pastimes, He spends His youth in the farm community of Vrindavana. That He should choose to live there is not surprising. The residents of Vrindavana during the Dvapara Yuga are fully qualified to see God, for they dedicate their lives to Him, sacrificing the results of their hard work for His satisfaction.
Though somewhere in the many universes Krishna is appearing right now, since the Dvapara Yuga has already passed in this specific creation, we can refer to the events relating to Krishna’s appearance in the past tense. When the Lord had just arrived in Vrindavana, He was tended to regularly by many women, who were all known as mothers. In the Vedic tradition every woman except your wife is referred to as “mother”, or at least they are treated that way. By following Vedic culture, whose ultimate aim is to make everyone God conscious by the time of death, one automatically learns to respect women.
Since Krishna was very young, it was not uncommon for more than just Mother Yashoda to breastfeed Him. A mother produces milk based on the need of the child. Krishna is the father of mankind, so everyone is inherently linked to Him. The mothers in Vrindavana had pure hearts, so they would produce milk just by seeing their beloved Krishna. Yet one day, a strange woman appeared on the scene. No one knew who she was, but she was so beautiful that they did not object to her picking up Krishna and trying to feed Him.
The woman was actually the witch Putana in disguise. In the neighboring town of Mathura lived King Kamsa, who was previously told that the eighth son of his sister Devaki would kill him. Taking no chances, the king locked up his sister and her husband Vasudeva. Kamsa managed to kill his sister’s first seven children, but the eighth child, Krishna, escaped when Vasudeva brought Him to Nanda Maharaja and Mother Yashoda in Vrindavana. Somehow or other, Kamsa found out that the child had been moved to Vrindavana, so he ordered that all newly born males be killed. To facilitate this he sent various demons to the town, with Putana being one of them.
Her job was pretty simple. She smeared poison on her breast beforehand, so anyone who would try to take milk from it would die instantly. Taking Krishna in her lap, she expected to be successful in her murder attempt. While we may be able to cheat our fellow man, it is not possible to cheat the Supreme Lord. In fact, as hard as we try to cheat, that much of a punishment will be returned back to us. Krishna sucked Putana’s breast alright, more than she could ever imagine. He sucked the very life out of her, eventually causing her to reveal her true, hideous form.
After she died and fell to the ground, the young Krishna playfully crawled on her body. The residents of the town couldn’t believe it. Mother Yashoda waved a cow’s tail around Krishna to ward off evil spirits. The sequence of events isn’t exactly the same in each creation, as Lord Krishna advents many times during each day of Lord Brahma, the first living entity. The world we live in goes through many cycles of creation and destruction, similar to how the spirit soul transmigrates from one body to another through the laws of karma.
In the Vishnu Purana, it is said that Nanda Maharaja placed an amulet on Krishna and recited the various names of Vishnu to protect Him. This proves that the residents of Vrindavana were devoted souls. Vishnu is the very same Krishna, but having a different appearance. Nanda Maharaja essentially prayed to God to protect His son, who was God Himself. The holy name is so powerful that reciting it in an authorized way can give protection to a young child. This is not some voodoo tradition or strange magic. The potency of the holy name is known to those who recite it with love on a regular basis. Therefore the single most recommended spiritual practice for the current age is the chanting of the maha-mantra, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”
Krishna captivated the hearts of the innocent townspeople of Vrindavana and foiled every attempt made by Kamsa. Krishna’s childhood pastimes are relished by the liberated souls, those who have tasted the fruit of existence. Pleasure is the ultimate objective in activity after all, so what could be more pleasing than having the mind swim in an ocean of nectar made up of love for Krishna and His name?
After Krishna did make her form switch,
Crawled on the body of Putana the witch,
Sucking the very life out of her breast,
On her giant body did Krishna’s feet rest.
Of sister’s eighth son was Kamsa afraid,
In his prison Vasudeva and Devaki stayed.
To Vrindavana was Krishna moved after birth,
Town full of devoted souls, sacred was its earth.
Where Krishna was Kamsa eventually found out,
For newborn males did Kamsa’s demons then scout.
Kamsa sent Putana, a witch masking her appearance,
Tried to kill Krishna, instead He caused her disappearance.
At Krishna’s amazing feats did the residents marvel,
In His beautiful form did their eyes revel.
Categories: krishna pastimes